Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985) Stone-woman / Steinfrau, 1938
Oil on cardboard, 59 x 49 cm
Meret Oppenheim Retrospective An Enormously Tiny Bit of a Lot
Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Berne
June 2 October 8, 2006
CH-3000 Bern 7
Phone 41 31 328 09 44
Wednesday Sunday 10.00 17.00
Tuesday 10.00 21.00
Art as an Elixir of Life
Meret Oppenheim (1913 1985) was one of the most outstanding figures of twentieth
century Swiss art. She was far ahead of her time. Moving from Basel to Paris in the early
1930s in search of a more fertile climate for her creativity, she found the freedom she
needed. It was in Paris, where she was famously photographed by Man Ray, that the
foundations were laid for the aura of myth that was to grow around her. But the role of muse did not suit her well, and she was neither willing nor able to accept it.
From 1936 onwards, Meret Oppenheim concentrated primarily on creating objects, among
them the work that made her famous: a cup and saucer, completed with spoon, covered
with the pelt of a gazelle. André Breton enthusiastically gave it the title Déjeuner en
fourrure. It is this one surrealist work, commonly referred to as the fur cup, for which she is perhaps best known to the broader public. Indeed, until now, it has tended to overshadow the rest of her oeuvre as an artist. One of the aims of this exhibition is to provide a richer view of her output.
Time and again, Meret Oppenheim created dadaistic works of incisive wit and innovation,
forming a body of work that is often rooted in her subconscious. Her visions led her to
create drawings, oil paintings, mixed media paintings, collages and assemblages, as well as plaster models for sculptures. Though her polymorphous oeuvre defies formal classification, it is nevertheless possible to discern certain predominant themes the boundaries and overlaps between nature and culture, man and woman, day and night, dream and reality.
There is a distinctly literary spirit running throughout Meret Oppenheims oeuvre. Indeed, for decades she drew upon the same primordial sources: dreams, associations, thoughts and play. She also repeatedly addressed the issue of her own gender, often in coded form.
Bern was Meret Oppenheims chosen home for more than thirty years. Thanks to her 1985
bequest, the Kunstmuseum Bern now houses the worlds most important collection of this
artists works. Further acquisitions in recent years, and the fact that the museum is now the keeper of the archive, places the Kunstmuseum Bern in a uniquely privileged position for putting up this retrospective exhibition. It shows works from every period of her career. Alongside famous pieces from New York, Paris and Stockholm, the exhibition includes hitherto little-known works from private collections and her estate as well as some that have never before been publicly presented.
This exhibition marks the first comprehensive survey of this early multi-media artists oeuvre in many years; reason enough to look at it from a new point of view and to consider its philosophical and literary links. By presenting her paintings, sculptures, drawings, objects and designs, the exhibition offers an unparalleled opportunity of rediscovering the life and work of Meret Oppenheim.
Curator: Dr. Therese Bhattacharya-Stettler, email@example.com,
Phone 41 31 328 09 30
The exhibiton will be shown on a reduced scale from January to April 2007 at the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Oslo, and at the Städtische Galerie Ravensburg from October 2007.
Catalogue by Hatje Cantz Verlag (only in German): Meret Oppenheim Retrospektive mit ganz enorm wenig viel
Editor: Therese Bhattacharya-Stettler and Matthias Frehner, Essays by Nathalie Bäschlin, Simon Baur, Matthias Frehner, Wanda Kupper, Isabel Schulz, Nicole Schweizer, Werner Spies, Lisa Wenger sowie Texten von Therese Bhattacharya-Stettler, Valie Export, Dominik Imhof, Roberto Lupo, Christiane Meyer-Thoss, Katharina Nyffenegger.
360 pages., 210 color images., 22 x 27 cm,
Ruth Gilgen Hamisultane, Press Communication
Phone 41 31 328 09 19, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information: www.kunstmuseumbern.ch
Partner of the Museum of Fine Arts Bern